Monday 31 July 2023

Month of July 2023

Updated finance page.

The recovery from my nose ops is going well. I'm able to take deep breadths through the nostrils compared to perpetual stuck feeling previously. The doctor was optimistic that things should get even better after the scabs from healed areas drop off eventually. Yet, I have to live with reduced sense of taste and smell for now and it's probably at least two to three months later that I could enjoy an aromatic meal properly. At the moment, there's a weird dried blood and rotting smell lingering in the nasal cavity. Also, I was advised to lose at least 8kg in order to achieve a better outcome post surgery. Well, after being on a light liquid diet for almost three weeks, half of that was gone! The bigger challenge lies ahead.

The National School Games season started for the youngest son which took place over two weeks. His rugby team had to play nine games, each lasting ten minutes. Last year, due to Covid, the rules were tweaked towards touch rugby but that changed to full contact now. It was rather entertaining to watch the boys of various sizes going up against each other, in full sunshine and muddy conditions. My boy did pretty well as he started all the games, compared to last year when he was mostly a substitute. It was a swift transition from being hesitant to unafraid of going in a tackle. His ball handling improved and there was a semblance of tactical team play.

There was another business travel clocked as I headed to Jakarta with a colleague. We arrived on a weekday evening, had dinner and headed to bed early. The next morning, the alarm went off at 3am as I freshened up to go to the airport once more. We had planned a day trip to Palembang for a site meeting and plant visit. Our hosts were very kind to provide snacks and meals which were mainly fried and fish related as they were near the sea. Everything went smoothly until the evening when we encountered the notorious traffic jam, reaching the check in counter forty minutes before flight time. Dinner was a disappointment as we settled for A&W and got served a very dry beef burger while root beer was out of stock. The highlight of this trip was I took four flights in four days, using three different airlines where two were for first time experience (Batik Air and Citilink).

Tip: Marc Soyard L'Equilibriste Rouge 2019, light natural wine with mini bubbles on an inky palate

Saturday 15 July 2023

Finance Investment Movement 35

During a morning visit to one of my favorite wanton mee stall, I was taken aback that a bowl now costs $4, up from $3.50 from about two years ago. Prior to that, it was $3 for as far as I patronized it. The portion remained the same. On the one hand, I can empathize the tough life of being a hawker. Yet, this latest price jump is starting to pinch my wallet. Nowadays, a simple meal with my family easily comes close to $40 or more. For an entire day, there might not even have spare change for $100. What this means is that I have to be more prudent in discretionary spending and find more ways to increase income.

This month, I recycled $9000 of redeemed T bills into the latest tranche for 3.99% yield. Also, the Aud fixed deposit matured and was renewed at 2.96% for 2 months. I chose a short tenor as I felt the interest rate will go higher by then. Whenever it can offer 3.5%, I will lock in for the longest period available. As for SSB, I can finally proclaim to have completed the ladder formation to receive coupons every month for the next ten years (as mentioned). The average yield is 3.11% although the total amount invested is still rather small at $40k. I consider this phase one completed. Going forward, phase two is to achieve at least double the amount at higher returns. Hence, I have decided to skip this month's offer. Then, phase three would be to continually monitor, swop for better rates and extend the life of the bonds. At least that's for the short term if interest rates remain elevated.

Tip: St Hallett Black Clay Shiraz 2021, lifted black currants, mild spiciness with a soft touch

Friday 7 July 2023

That Little Nook In Our Heart

The author is a former journalist who went to ten countries in pursuit of one objective i.e to answer the question of what makes a person happy. Could it be related to religion, culture, financial status, living environment or something else? It was this very interesting context that I decided to give this book a try. 

I like how it’s written from his perspective as a traveller who experiences first hand and speaks to locals who more often than not, are quite sure they are happy but offer no common reason across the board. Based on research results, he tries to ascertain whether the world happiness ranking is indeed relevant. Along the way, through the many conversations, one could learn new knowledge of a country such as Moldova being a poor place yet having the best fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s also fascinating that Icelanders view failure as important and they are all DNA related if you go back far enough the family tree. The occasional witty remarks on people, government policy and certain quirks keep the reading enjoyment going. For example, “Bhutan’s generously named National Highway is the only road in the country and barely a road at that, wide enough for one car.”

Despite it being 345 pages, it took me a long time to finish. Partly because I enjoyed it really much, partly also the concept of happiness is that elusive as to how it relates to me. There’s no answer yet but this should keep me thinking for a long while. Another highly recommended book that will keep you entertained throughout.

Trivia: Inspired by the book, I did a search for Singapore on the internet and found it is ranked 68th although it can vary between 30-70 depending on which index used

Tip: Catena Malbec 2019, quiet performer that comes forward with meats